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Yamaha YSP-2500 Soundbar Listening Tests

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The crossover point from the small main drivers to the subwoofer is quite high at approximately 500 Hz per the specs, and confirmed with my SPL meter and test tones. As a result, trying to tuck the sub behind a chair or bed won’t work because the sound is too localizable. In order for lower frequencies to sound like they’re coming from the front of the room, your sub will need to stay in the front of the room.  I recommend either getting the sub as close as possible to the main unit for the best integration, or using a front corner for the most powerful bass response.
 
You may remember from my review of the Yamaha YSP-4300 that I was duly impressed with Yamaha’s Sound Projector technology.  As long as you have a rectangular room with reflective walls, it does a great job of “bouncing” sound from the sides and behind your ears, reproducing discrete surround channels without extra surround speakers in a convincing fashion.  Though the new YSP-2500 is almost half the price, it produces a similarly convincing effect.
 
I tested the YSP-2500 in a few rooms, from a large, open media room to smaller dens and bedrooms.  Generally, the beaming features were rendered useless by open rooms, and large rooms proved too much of a challenge for the smaller sub to produce realistic, dynamic sound.  That said, at moderate volumes in my large room, the YSP-2500 could still produce fuller, cleaner sound than I would expect out of built-in display speakers.  Ideally, for the best surround effect, you should stick to closed, rectangular rooms and smaller spaces like my 12x14 foot bedroom for the most dynamic sound from the small drivers and compact subwoofer.
 
I tested a variety of content including movies like The Wolf of Wall Street which has a lot of atmospheric surround content, and The Dark Knight Rises for more direct surround cues.  For music, I listened to the new album from My Brightest Diamond, This Is My Hand, and Bjork’s Post.  Both are albums that make good use of big stereo effects.

My Brightest Diamond - This Is My Hand

My Brightest Diamond - This Is My Hand

The Yamaha has several available DSP modes labeled, among other things, “Spectacle”, “Talk Show”, and the infamous “Jazz Club.”  I played with these a bit, but mostly left them off.  Instead, I focused on testing the 3 main modes easily access with the buttons at the top of the remote: Stereo, Surround, and Target.
 
In stereo mode, the Yamaha doesn’t utilize any sound-beaming trickery, instead functioning as a traditional 2.1 setup.  However, as the driver array is only 19 inches wide, this approach makes for a very narrow stereo image bordering on mono.  For instance, on “Pressure” from This is My Hand, the xylophone at 30 seconds in typically dances across the front of the room, but in stereo mode was a bit more anchored in the center of the room.  However, synth bass and kick drum were properly weighty and the main unit and corner-loaded sub integrated very well for a full-range sound that dipped down to the quoted 40Hz range of the subwoofer, as confirmed with test tones and an SPL meter. Compared to the other modes, and despite the narrow stage, Stereo mode had the most neutral frequency response to my ears and was my favorite for music listening.
 
In surround mode, the Yamaha fires up its beaming feature to not only replicate side and rear speakers, but also widen the front soundstage.  For instance, in my setup, sending a signal to just the left channel produced a distinct image about halfway between the main unit and the wall itself.  The right channel was also widened, but as I had a wall opening at the right rear, was more diffused and not as distinct.  In a fully closed room, this should not be an issue.  Rear channels were reproduced in a way that varied from diffused to more directional, but definitely didn’t seem like they were coming from the front of the room.  Yamaha again proved that they have one of the best pseudo-surround technologies when it comes to the most authentic aping of a traditional surround system. This was displayed in the numerous crowded office scenes inThe Wolf of Wall Street where the cacophony of the chaotic office environments is nicely translated.

 

Yamaha YSP-2500 Digital Sound Projector Technology

The Yamaha YSP-2500 Digital Sound Projector technology "bounces" sound off walls, replicating discrete surround speakers.

 

Finally, the Yamaha YSP-2500 offers a “Target mode” where users can aim the beam at a specific location in the room, for instance, keeping sound pointed at a listening seat and away from walls when others in the house might be trying to sleep.  You can also use this feature for extreme off-angle listening to make dialogue more clear.  Be warned, sound in this mode was thin, lacking in bass and some detail, to the extent that I wouldn’t want to use it on a day to day basis.  Kudos to Yamaha for this creative use of their technology to target sound, but, for me, the final product is pretty unlistenable.  You should plan on sticking with one of the previous two modes for the majority of your listening.
 
Once you dial in everything the way that you want it, settings can be saved in one of 3 memory locations, each with its own remote button.  This, for example, allows you to easily switch between a setting optimized for solo listening in your favorite chair, one for group listening across multiple seating locations, and one for beaming sound to a far angle perhaps a corner kitchen.

 

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